The Ministry of Health to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the harmful substances in food – COPA instructs

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) informed the officials of the Ministry of Health to conduct an immediate and comprehensive inspection regarding the harmful substances in food including imported food items such as coconut oil given that such authority is vested with the Ministry of Health.

The Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts Hon. Prof. Tissa Vitharana informed the officials that laboratory facilities for food testing should be improved and the laws pertaining to food security should be amended expeditiously.

Hon. State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna, the former COPA Chairman pointed out that the situation has worsened due to the lack of proper coordination among food testing laboratories.

The Committee on Public Accounts held in Parliament to review the Auditor General’s Report of the Auditor General Reports of the Ministry of Health for the year 2017/2018 and Current Performance stated that a number of issues are currently arising due to the non-implementation of a proper program for food security in the country.

Hon. Member of Parliament Dr.Harini Amarasuriya emphasized on the fact that cosmetics imported into the country contain highly harmful chemicals. The Committee was of the view that it was very important to formulate a proper regulatory system for the importation of beauty products and instructed the officials of the Ministry of Health to take immediate action on this regard.

Given that the rules of the Ministry of Health are in force for food, the Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Tissa Vitharana emphasized the need to take immediate action to check the quality of food.

Hon. Tissa Attanayake, Hon. Niroshan Perera, Hon. (Dr.) Upul Galappaththi Hon. Weerasumana Weerasinghe and respective officials marked their presence at the Committee meeting held.

According to the Combined Plan of the Second Health Sector Development Project, the total allocation for innovations during the five-year project period was Rs. 346 million, but as at December 3rd, 2017, Rs. 399 million had been approved for 34 innovation research proposals. The Committee paid special attention to this matter.

It was disclosed at the meeting that the research projects carried out by a single person have led to the ineffectiveness of the research projects.

The contract for the construction of the 7-storey Millennium Ward Complex at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila was awarded to a private company on August 14th, 2006 with a contract value of Rs. 398 million. Although it was scheduled to be completed on March 19th, 2008, the committee observed that the contracted with the respective contractor was ended as the work had not yet been completed.

The Committee paid special attention to the failure in recovering Rs. 51 million paid to the contractor by that date. The Committee directed the Secretary to the Ministry of Health to take immediate action to recover this amount.

The project to construct a new building complex for the Ministry of Health was awarded to CECB on October 29th, 2014 at a levy inclusive contract value of Rs. 3,896 million, the committee disclosed that the building plan had not been approved by the Municipal Council before the beginning of construction and that no feasibility study had been conducted for the project.

The Committee expressed its displeasure over the fact that 224 fingerprint machines purchased by the Ministry in 2006 at a cost of Rs. 31.71 million have been inactive for more than 15 years.



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